ANIMAL MAGIC: A weekly column from Alder Veterinary Practice, of Spalding and Bourne
London hosted the largest celebration of the Chinese New Year outside of China recently and, as we know, 2018 is the year of the dog.
The personalities of those born under this sign are loyal, honest and hard-working, characteristics we also value in man’s best friend. Of course, as humans have developed the huge variety of dog breeds for the roles they have played in our lives, so dogs’ personalities are as varied as their looks and physiques.
Herding dogs such as Border Collies and German Shepherds are the most intelligent of dogs and therefore the easiest breeds to train, loving to learn new task and challenges.
Sight hounds such as Greyhounds and Salukis are either asleep or at top speed. Scent hounds like Beagles get their nose to the ground and follow trails. They have long ears which act like blinkers to let them focus on the scent. For both types, once they’ve found their target no amount of shouting will get their attention, so it needs a patient owner when it comes to recall training.
The gun dog breeds such as Labradors and Spaniels have simple needs. They are the Ray Mears of the dog world and love the outdoor life and being fed. Throw them a ball and life is heaven.
Terriers such as Jack Russells and Schnauzers are always on the go and must be busy digging, barking and elbowing their way in to see what’s happening. They are high energy dogs and need high energetic owners to keep them active.
Toy breeds may be small but make up for their size in personality and what a variety of personalities they have from the bold chihuahua to the laid-back Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Working and utility breeds need to be kept active. We know that Dalmations need to run long distances to stay slim and healthy. Husky sledding is an adrenaline sport and great fun to try if you are the type who needs a sporting buzz.
So much for the general characteristics of the dog groups but we all know that each individual breed and each individual dog has its own personality quirks and coming into the vets makes these even more pronounced.
Labradors are renowned for having an eating gene, they just never feel full so giving a tablet sandwiched between two pieces of sausage is easy. Try the same thing with a Border Collie and they will happily chew the meat and spit out the tablet 20 minutes later.
Foolish is the vet that tries to give a worming tablet to a Pug. Once this stubborn little breed shuts his mouth, no amount of prising or cajoling will get him to take that tablet. Pugs one, vets nil.
The most confident dogs tend to turn into quivering wrecks as soon as the consulting room door is opened but often the toy breeds such as the Shih Tzu will race through eager for a fuss.
However, there is one trait that sends fear through the heart of every vet and that’s when the owner says: “She won’t bite.”
That sweet little bundle of fur will turn into teeth on legs when you try to trim her nails.
If you are thinking of getting a particular dog breed this year, research its personality traits. Whether it’s sporty, loves puzzles, is laid back, outdoorsy or indoorsy or highly energetic, if you think you can help it live life to the full then that’s the breed to get.
They say that dogs tend to look like their owners, perhaps it would be better to get a dog that behaves like you instead!